(Photos courtesy Karrie Kohlhaas)
In the months ahead, rain gardens will be part of at least two government-led projects in West Seattle. A private project that’s already in place in North Delridge continues to draw interest – including a school field trip for which Karrie Kohlhaas was the neighborhood liaison today. She shared photos and this report:
This morning, Chief Sealth International High School brought 25 ninth-graders on a tour of the Rain Garden Demonstration Cluster on 25th Ave SW between Brandon and Findlay (10 rain gardens in the front yards of 10 neighbors on 25th).
The students have been learning about storm water and how it impacts the environment and nearby waterways. Students visited Longfellow Creek before walking 25th Avenue to learn about rain gardens for the first time.
I met with students and teachers to explain how a rain garden works and to show them the different types of plants in a rain garden. We talked about why someone might want to plant a rain garden — how it can both absorb excess water in the winter and be a low maintenance landscaping in the summer and most importantly how it filters toxic pollutants before the water makes its way to local waterways like nearby Longfellow Creek.
As expected, some of the students were more interested than others. I told them that this might not be so fascinating right now, but when they have a home one day, they may stop and think about planting a rain garden instead of grass, which is not beneficial to the environment. They are finding out about grass alternatives much earlier than I did. I only discovered rain gardens a couple years ago. I told them they are way ahead of the curve.
Since we installed 10 rain gardens on our block in 2011, we’ve had many visitors. Many gardeners, a local Muslim school, curious West Seattle and Delridge neighbors, and even people who heard about the project on NPR and PBS in other states have made our block part of their visit to Seattle. I’ve enjoyed spreading the word about rain gardens and the benefits to homeowners, the environment, and the community.
If anyone wants to come check out the gardens, they are welcome to walk the block. It’s a great example of neighbors and non-profits working together to improve the community. While here, you can also see the street improvement on our block, where we collaborated with SDOT and Stewardship Partners to augment a drainage solution in the street by adding, yep, more rain gardens as well as native plants in the planting strips up and down the block. This spring will be a great time to come and check it out when everything is blooming and budding.
Here’s a map to the neighborhood.
ADDED SATURDAY: Chief Sealth social-studies teacher Noah Zeichner tells WSB that this was one of 10 “field experiences” taken by ninth-graders on Friday as part of the multidisciplinary WEST Project (Water, Ecology, and Sustainability Team). The destinations also included:
• Renton Water Treatment
• Cedar River Water Shed
• Water 1st
• Seattle Biomed
• Duwamish Boat ride
• Solid Ground
• Rainier Urban Farms and Wetlands
• Urban Gardens with Composting
• Gates Foundation Visitor Center
Local and global water issues continue to be a focus at Sealth, and this year’s World Water Week is coming up – at which time, among many other activities, students will present their projects to students at adjacent Denny International Middle School. More on WWW coming up in another WSB story this weekend – meantime, here’s previous coverage, including a note about this year’s keynote address, to which the community’s invited.
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